Meghalaya: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly


SHILLONG: In these 44 years, a serious introspection into the developmental aspect of the state of Meghalaya is required in order to plan a road-map for the future.

But sad to see that not much has changed since Meghalaya attained its statehood in 1972. While Shillong is gradually turning into a concrete jungle, rural Meghalaya is being left out for obvious reason. 'Everybody wants to stay in the big city'.

Once known as the educational hub of the Northeast, Shillong is however, turning into a main transit point for drug smugglers and peddlers, as reported by the police.

So where does the problem lie?

The good, the bad and the ugly of Meghalaya!

The GOOD thing about the state is the tolerance of the state in dealing with influx, and interstate boundary conflicts between Meghalaya and Assam and a whole lot of other problems which deteriorates the morales of the people of the state at a very slow pace.

The BAD thing is the fact that state is only one-third developed. Obviously Shillong is exploding. Thanks to the migration of rural folks to urban Shillong and of course, influx.

And the UGLY part about Meghalaya is lack of opportunities (real-diplomatic-practical-assessable opportunities) for the youth to grow.

The question of brain drain always comes to the fore front whenever politicians stand up infront of a gathering to deliver his/her speech on the future of the state and its youth. Why So? The answer is blowing in the wind. Obviously, when no doors are open in our own state, why would the talented lots stay here and rot, they might very well go outside and experience career growth.

True to the core! The hospitality of people of Meghalaya and the scenic beauty of the state (Thanks to the natural beauty that the state has been endorsed with) has attracted many tourists, hence, generating revenue for the state. But the question arises, how can tourism alone sustain a population of nearly 3,211,474 (as per 2014 census)?

Take a look at other artistic sectors like the music and film industries. Where thou art has all the talented youth gone? The question is not about the lack of talented and artistic youth, the question is about the lack of avenues.

Housed in the country known to be the largest producer of films and second oldest film industry in the world, film makers and actors in Meghalaya for decades now are still reeling under the refusal of the state government to acknowledge them as a film industry thereby reducing film making in the state to a mere hobby.

While the state government recently sanction Rs 2.20 crore to a musical dram-Rock On 2 shot in the state for promotion of Tourism is in the right earnest, many believes that perhaps the amount paid to put the state in the silver screen would have been much lesser if only the state government had taken that interest in developing the industry here.

However, all is not lost –though at its nascent stage filmmaking in the state is gradually making progress.

Let's not forget that Meghalaya has produced renowned film maker and national award winner Pradip Kurbah for Khasi feature film "Onaatah", Bollywood Director Nicholas Kharkongor, local talents like Andrea Tariang in the movie Pink and Baia Marbaniang and Giovanni Arnold Thangkhiew in a short film called 'MIA I'M' directed by Satish Raj and mentored by renowned film director, writer and producer Imtiaz Ali.

All in all, it provides a clear picture of the talents and the effort put in by them to promote their talent and prospects of a successful film industry in the state.

"Film industry in the state is still in doldrums. Filmmakers should not restrict themselves within the state but needs to go beyond, said the National Award winning director Pradip Kurbah.

Refusing to divulge much on the support of the government in this regard, Kurbah informed that the recently formed association The Films & Television Producers Guild of Meghalaya (FTPGM) will look into the aspects of promoting, encouraging and developing film members and mould budding filmmakers thereby making filmmaking more improved and sound in terms of production, technicality and reaching beyond the state boundaries.

"Film makers of the state are failing in many aspects and that is why we are trying to start from the grassroots through FTPGM by organizing workshops on acting, script writing, screenplay besides others to help the talents and the industry grow,"said Kurbah further adding, "We have to move beyond".

Expressing his dismay over the state made films not making it to the 7th International Films Festival of India (IFFI) other than his, Khasi feature film "Onaatah, Kurbah said, "I wish and want to see more movies from our state in IFFI".

Director of a short movie called 'Fair and Lowly' and bollywood movie Mantra, Nicholas Kharkongor recently said, "My ambition in life is to make North Eastern films for a global art house audience. There are so many amazing stories there. I want to work with North Eastern actors and set my films in the North East".

Meanwhile, a young and budding director of the Khasi Film 'Papa' screened earlier this year Kevin Kharmalki said, "There is a slow growth yet it is better than before. Earlier most of our movies were made and screened only for the rural audience, but now there is some support and audience from the towns and cities as well which signifies growth".

He also informed that lack of slots in the cinema halls to screen their movies is one of the major problem.

"I was suppose to screen two movies(Papa and Dak Bangla) this year but could screen only one (Papa) due to non-availability of the slot as Hindi movies are also screened in the same hall,' informed Kharmalki adding that it is festive season and he will have to hold the screening of his movie Dak Bangla until next year.

Bogged down by the state government's refusal to acknowledge, crippled by financial constraints and technical superiority of others, the filmmakers in the state may be struggling but are determined to stand tall and create a niche for themselves and the industry in years to come.

What's left to be seen now is the willingness of more talented directors to think outside the box and start directing movies for a wider audience. The state government as the prime financer is also expected to turn these dreams into a reality and help boost the economic income of the state and also opt for multiples ways to increase the revenue generation of Meghalaya (not only Shillong) in varied ways.

By Ibankyntiew Mawrie


(The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writers' own and TNT-The Northeast Today may or may not choose to hold the same views)